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McEwan's Scotch Ale - Wells & Young's Ltd

Not Rated.
McEwan's Scotch AleMcEwan's Scotch Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

24 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 24
Hads: 89
Avg: 3.89
pDev: 24.42%
Wants: 8
Gots: 16 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy | 8.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: UCLABrewN84 on 09-06-2013

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (49) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 24 | Hads: 89
Photo of woodychandler
4.14/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I sometimes have to shake my head at what I have and what I have not reviewed. As I approach 3,250 reviews, I thought that it would become more & more difficult to find new beers to review, but that is clearly NOT the case! Here is a bottle that I found at the Ardmore Bottle Shop over the weekend and I am happy to give it a whirl.

From the bottle: "Est. 1856".

I Pop!ped the cap and let fly since it came in a wee 330ml bottle. The head came up quickly, but not enough to broach the lip of the glass. It settled into two fingers of dense, rocky, deep-tan/light-tan head with good retention. Falling, it created some wonderfully sticky lacing that was going to take a jackhammer to remove. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity and burnt-orange highlights. Nose was very malty sweet, almost like shoo-fly pie with its molasses and brown sugar base. Mouthfeel was medium to full, not quite creamy, but close. The taste was quite sweet, reminiscent of coffee ice cream. Mmmm. It seems strange that as a self-avowed hophead that I would be enjoying so many different styles, but this has all been a nice change of pace for me. Finish was sweet, but not cloying. One would be enough for me, but it was still a good beer.

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Photo of sweet-maltman_1
4.98/5  rDev +28%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Living in North Carolina, I cannot find McEwans. It was not available in the US for many years after Heineken took it over. However with Wells & Young now in charge it is available in New Jersey. I had to go to Eastern Pennsylvania 2 weeks ago and I popped across the Bridge at Easton and it is available in Phillipsburg at Free Bridge Spirits. I picked up 2 four packs. It is as good as I remember it. Great nose, feel and definitely taste. Dark fruits, a little pine, chocolate, vanilla and lots of malt. Just enough hops to keep it from being over sweet. I cannot say enough good things but like my name implies I like sweet malty brews. Only thing I wish is if it were available close to Raleigh, NC.

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Photo of brureview
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Best By 6/15.

Poured a dark opaque brown color with a 3F head in a Gordon's Scotch ale glass. 4

Strong aroma: different than US Scotch ales. Heavy fig, prune, slightly sweet. US Scotch ales have more toffee, candy, and other flavors. 4.25

The body of the beer is a bit light- too much for the style. I prefer more viscosity in a Scotch ale. It tastes a bit watery. 3.75

Taste: excellent. heavy prune-fig. malty .4

Overall- a classic Scotch ale. Prune, fig, sweet, and very malty. The aroma lasts throughout the tasting. Warming brings out more flavor. 4

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Photo of Codyvanvactor
4.71/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Love this beer. Best scotch ale I have tried. If you like bourbon barrel stuff, try this. Really good balance and plenty of scotch-ness. Not too boozy or syrupy.

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Photo of leprechaunandfatman
4.28/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours very dark with minimal head. Smell is sweet maltiness with some roasted toffee hints as well. Taste is very much like the smell though not as sweet as I was expecting. Also extremely smooth and light for an 8% beer. Finish is a nice smoked malt flavor that lingers wonderfully on the tongue with just the faintest tinge of alcohol at the end. Overall very pleasant to drink with quite a nice taste. I'll definitely be looking for this one again.

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Photo of Hodgson
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a good effort, quite similar to the one I remember from 20 years ago. Nice malty quality - wet dark bread as another poster called it, good description - with a slight tang underneath from hops and or some other astringency.

It isn't "craft" as such in taste but very respectable. Older taste descriptions from the 70's and 80's often mention a roast quality which this one doesn't have. Apparently it came from roast barley and possibly (or at certain times) a touch of peated malt. I remember this myself in the ones from around 1980. It would be good if the brewery would tweak the beer to put this back in, but otherwise they have done a good job and nice to see it back.

N.B. I'm editing my review above to indicate that drinking a bottle today (January 4, '15) I do detect a clear note of roasted barley or smoked malt. Either this was there before and I missed it, or recent bottles are emphasizing this. I'd prefer a deeper malty note, but all told pretty close now to what I recall from 20-30 years back.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%

11.2 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown color. The head is around a finger high, with a shade leaning heavily off-white (but not quite at mocha or khaki, either). It has pretty good retention and a creamy texture. Even better, the aforementioned creamy texture leaves behind plenty of lacing on the glass - a consistent ring worth, actually. Quite attractive. (4)

Smell: Typical of the style, it has a heavy caramel leaning, backed by some dark fruit qualities. Given it's slight age, a bit of sherry oxidation is coming through. Smoke is very, very subtle, but there if one concentrates. (3.5)

Taste: A touch of smoke opens it up. Afterwards, it evolves into combination of caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits, and chocolate. The finish has a kiss of earthiness, too, along with some faint tea leaf. Not the biggest flavor profile by any means, but everything is balanced in check. So that's good! (3.5)

Mouthfeel: It's surprisingly light on the tongue. On one hand, it doesn't really feel rich or decadent; on the other hand, it's pretty drinkable in spite of its sweetness level. Carbonation is on the lower side, its drinkability coming more from its dry aftertaste than anything else. (3.5)

Overall: Certainly, it's a decent Scotch ale - it just seems designed for drinkability instead of richness. I'd definitely drink it again (even buy it again), I'd just rather drink something like Old Chub instead. (3.5)

3.53/5: Good scotch ale, very easy drinking for 8%

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Photo of biboergosum
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

330ml bottle. New brewer, new beer? Not entirely sure, but a few of these fell to me recently as party leftovers, so I thought I'd see how this brand has kept up, as such.

This beer pours a clear, very dark mahogany brown hue, with three lazy fingers of puffy, tightly foamy, and eventually bubbly beige head, which leaves some broadly spectral swaths of splattered lace around the glass as it genially sinks away.

It smells of strangely thin, but at least complicated caramel malt (treacle, toffee, and nougat all represented, if not wholly respectable), wet dark bread, a more rounded black fruitiness - plum, dried cherry, and sultana raisin - a subtle hint of ashy char, warm red wine notes, and earthy, grassy, and leafy hops, sedated all. The taste is bready caramel malt, dime-store toffee candies, a fading chocolate bar sugary character, straining at the tether peaty notes, muddled bruised fruit - maybe a bit of banana and overripe cherries prevailing - and leafy, weedy, and slightly perfumed (courtesy of you-know-whooo) hops.

The bubbles are generally understated, and mostly just playfully frothy, the body a decent medium weight (neither wee, nor heavy), and pretty smooth, in the not quite fulfilled version of each term's intended meaning. It finishes off-dry, and much less sweet than I might be remembering, but, there it is.

It's been a real while, but I have to say that age and distraction aren't the only things messing with my recollection of the most recent ex-brewer's version vis-à-vis this current one. Sweet and malty, sure. A bit Scotchy in its vegetal astringency? You bet. Ok, so this does well enough by McEwen's legacy, but you won't see me rushing out late next January to sweep up more of this, I'm afraid.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Yeah, it's a different brewery, and it's been several years since my last "original" McEwan's, but I'm still excited to finally pour this stuff into a glass again. It pours a clear midnight garnet topped by a finger or so of baked khaki foam. The nose comprises rich caramel, dark greens, mild dark fruits, light brown sugar, and a hint of what may or may not be peat smoke. The taste brings in more of the same, the spiced caramel and dark fruits really coming together to support the greenery and vice-versa. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, it may not necessarily live up to my romanticized memory of the original stuff, but it's some damn tasty beer regardless. Good times.

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Photo of keithmurray
4.41/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - dark mahogany color with tan head

Smell - cherry, plums, raisins, bit of peat

Taste - plums, cherries, caramel, grape, bit of smokey peat

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, medium carbonation, smooth, rich,bit of sweetness upfront, flavors linger properly

Overall - I was happy to see this one back in the States and I enjoyed drinking this. A well made scotch ale. Recommended.

Price Point - $10.99/ 4pk 11.2 oz bottles

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Photo of baltija
5/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Dark brown color with white foam on the top

S: Nice aroma of caramel and sweetness

T: Caramel, sweet through little of bitterness

M: Low carbonation, thick and very smooth

One of my favorite beers, was looking for it for a while and I'm glad they finally brought it back.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.59/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I'm loving that they brought this beer back to British Columbia.

A: Cola coloured liquid with slight carbonation and slight tan head at the rim of the glass.

S: Plums, prunes, raisins, grass.

T: Dark fruit, plums, prunes, toffee, chocolate, biscuit.

M: Medium to thick viscosity and medium to low fine carbonation.

O: I have always loved this beer. I haven't had it in years, but it has stood up in my opinion. This is a malt lovers dream and is up there with Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter and Imperial Stout for me.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: huge 2" khaki-colored head rises up on the pour with little effort - open foam structure - it holds together well, high, though when I overpour, not spilling off the sides of the glass, maintaining a "belly-button" foam ring atop for a couple minutes.... deep burnt orange-red hue to the clean-filtered liquid... nice display of crystalline lace rings

S: moderately toasty-roasty grain aroma hits first atop an upsurge of dark fruit esters - vinous, prune, applejack.... soft, fragrant alcohol and medium crystal malt comes through lastly.... a nice bit going on, mild-moderate intensity, though nothing extraordinary

T: hard to call this overly-sweet... it's just about right.... it's got impressions of added sweetness through the alcohol and the dark-roast crystal malt flavors.... the fairly bold candy-sugar-like flavors remind me a bit of dark abbey ales.... tiny hint of juicy raisin in the aftertaste.... dark, concentrated-syrupy malt mostly, attenuated a touch with a mist of ghostly, floral booze and a faint mineral/metallic (blood, iron) lingering tang.... just not enough (malt) depth in the follow-through...

M: a little overly carbonated? - more foamy-washy than dextrin-rich at first.... mildly sticky and delicately viscous afterwards, though there is a sense of it finishing a touch too thin... has enough substance but it lacks a bit of the plump roundness I dig....

O: I guess this is what I would've expected - this being a re-issue and all... I think it's done fairly well - fairly cautiously straight-forward (with maybe a bit of a nod to Burton ales??) - and I'm sure it will be proclaimed that the original product had a more character (never having had the pleasure of trying it myself).... definitely best sampled at cellar temp or warmer.... $10/4-pack? - I'd buy it again down the line

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Photo of Wobbly
4.21/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This superb rendition of the classic Scottish style is a true joy, especially if you are fortunate enough to find it on tap. Deep, fruity aromas (plum?) subside to notes of taffy and licorice. Alcohol certainly present but not overpowering. Lovely beer.

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Photo of T-34-85
3.32/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Served in a balloon glass.

Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a nice tan two finger head. Has a sweet and malty aroma with no discernible hops. A sweet, malty, and biscuity flavor with a slight bitterness or astringency present on the back of the tongue.

Overall, a decent beer, but a bit too sweet in my opinion.

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Photo of rangerred
3.28/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

330ml bottle into a nonic.

Pours pitch black with a one finger medium tan head. Very good head retention, almost nitro-like, with ok lacing.

The aroma is very malty and sweet smelling with lots of caramel along with some toast and coffee notes. Some fruityness sneaks through from the yeast.

Immense sweetness upon tasting. This is an extremely malt-forward beer with an almost candy-like sweetness. Fruity, yeasty notes along with loads of caramel and toffee with some coffee in the background. The bitterness sneaks up gradually throughout the taste but it is still not enough to offset the sweetness. Silky and very sticky mouthfeel.

Overall, this beer is just too sweet for me. There is too much malt and not enough in the way of hops to balance out the sweetness. It becomes cloying after awhile.

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Photo of fourstringer
3.61/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 330 mL bottle into a Samuel Smith pint glass. Moderately aggressive hand. Best by 27/03/14.

A: Dark amber with mostly clear body. 1/2 finger of off-white head that rapidly fizzled to a light coating. Decent lacing.

S: Very sweet, fruity malt. Quite full in the nose. Caramel and toffee. Grape. Light peat.

T: Very sweet, roasted malt bomb with strong fruit notes. Mostly grape, raisin. A light hop bitterness develops to assist the semi-dry finish. Nice chocolate, toasty notes in the aftertaste. Little alcohol presence. Definitely on the sweeter side of things and does get a bit cloying.

M: Moderate to low carbonation. Moderately full body. Very smooth and well suited to the style.

O: The flavors are nice, but it comes across a bit unbalanced. A bit more hop to offset the sweetness would definitely ratchet this one up a notch. A little more smokiness would be welcome, as well. Admittedly, this goes down with dangerous ease given the ABV. You could certainly do worse with a Wee Heavy, but it has its flaws.


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Photo of ISmith87
4.07/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - The beer itself is a dark brown color that's a little see through at the edges. Nice off white head that leaves good lacing.
S - A lot of boozy bourbon smell. Some scotch, peat, caramel, toffee, roasty breadiness. Toasty.
T - Not too complex but quite a bit better than expected. Vanilla, caramel, roasty notes, chocolate.
M - Alc completely covered at 8% - NICE. Medium - heavy body. Aftertaste is a pleasant sweet vanilla and caramel.
O - This is a good beer. I feel like i've broadened my horizons a little with this guy. I will definitely buy again.

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Photo of colts9016
3.62/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From Notes
Poured into a pint glass at 50 degrees.

Appearance: A thin whitish tan head that just disappeared. The color of the beer is dark motor oil and some dark copper hues when the light hits it. The beer has no clarity or carbonation bubble visible.

Nose: A rich dark malty aroma with caramel, molasses, peat, earth, straw, a slight banana note, and nutty.

Taste: A dark rich malt flavor with toffee, caramel, molasses, peat, earth, straw, and nuttiness. Hops is delectable but unable to pick up the flavors accurately.

The mouth feel of the beer is very chewy, coating, and a bit solvent like.

Overall: This a decent example of a Scottish ale. I would have like to seen a more defined ale with stronger flavors.

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Photo of bmwats
3.77/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 33 cl bottle into a nonic.

A: Very dark brown. Pours a half finger, foamy, white head. Settles slowly. Slight spider web lacing.

S: .Pecans, molasses, tea, and cola.

T: Roasted malt grains, molasses, tea leaves, pecan shells.

M: Roasty, slightly sweet, slight pungent. A little syrupy and thick feeling.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is pretty good. Dark hue, decent head, and fair lacing. Nose is sweet and nutty. Roasted malt, accentuated with sweet and bitter tones, but very well-balanced. Syrupy and hearty. Overall, this is a really good quaff.

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Photo of TempeBeerMan
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Whoa. An old favorite from like ten years ago, and now it is finally back! Let's see if it is as good as I remember.

Poured from a bottle into a nonic pint.

A - Pours a clear, dark-reddish mahogany with a three finger beige head of big soapy looking bubbles. Patches of sticky lacing.

S - Powerful aroma of sweetness. Prunes, caramel, milk chocolate, and toffee odors.

T - Taste matches the nose, as this is basically a big, sweet, malt bomb. Toffee, caramel, and crème brulee style candied sugar upfront. Some smokiness in the mid-palate. Not as much peat as I would expect from a scotch ale. Dextrine-y, but in a good way versus an artificial by product type taste. ABV noticeable.

M - Extremely full bodied and chewy. Medium carbonation. The big body goes well with the sweetness.

O - I really like this beer; great flavor and presentation, and I have many fond memories of drinking these as I was first getting into craft. Overall it's held up pretty well, but I do expect a little more "scotch" in my scotch ale these days. However, lets say the label said "brown ale" instead of "scotch ale"; it would be probably the best brown ale on the market.

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.51/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

330 ml bottle poured into a NB snifter.

A - Pours a rich brown with golden highlights. A two-finger head of eggnog fluffy, sudsy foam dissipates at a moderate pace, leaving a generous and thick ring of Swiss cheese lace around the glass. Eventually, the surface is a sea of very fine lace with islands of bubbles. Held to a full-spectrum light, the beer is a deep, dried blood red, like dark cherry wood, and clear, other than with how much light this beer absorbs, which is substantial. Columns of bubbles can be detected rising from the bottom of the glass.

S - Initial nose is very muted - the beer needs to warm to present. Eventually, caramel meekly appears along with toasted malts. Malts reveal a roasted edge in the background along with some chocolate nibs and a hint of a meat smokehouse. A trace of the ABV introduces hints of dark, dried fruit, like raisins. Overall, though, the nose is MIA, and it's a struggle to pull components out of the glass.

T - Toasted malts of moist pumpernickel bread, darker sugars with a touch of bitterness, and background notes of a charcoaled roast. Some dark caramel, but more molasses. No trace of the ABV. Echos of dark sugars play against a smoked, almost bitter flavor after the finish.

M - Leans toward the creamy side with a bit of fiz in the finish. Carbonation is a bit light. Thinner body, but not watery; a bit slick. Components are properly integrated with a moderately tight structure. Finish is pretty clean, and nicely balanced. It's relatively short, but echos linger on the tongue.

O - This is a pretty tasty darker take on the style, where the malts are toasted toward a roast, there's post-fire smoke in the background, and darker sugars follow along in support. This is a good cigar Scotch ale. My one disappointment is with the nose, which even after an hour at the end of the glass never really opened up.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.76/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a finger of head on a brown colored body.
The aroma has a heavy dose of malt, caramel and brown sugar.
The taste is quite nice. There's a moderate brown sugar sweetness that mellows out towards the end. It has the mild pine bitterness that brings a good balance.
The texture is soft with low to moderate carbonation.
It's one of the more drinkable Scotch ales.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.59/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best before 2/18/14.

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Thin streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, and dark fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and fruity flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of toasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but has a slightly better set of aromas in my opinion.

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McEwan's Scotch Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
86 out of 100 based on 24 ratings.